The Writing Doctor

Grammar, academic writing advice, rhetoric, and composition.

The Universal “You”

The Universal “You”

The Universal You Doesn’t Exist

One of the hard and fast rules of academic writing is that there is no universal you. There are a lot of reasons for this, the largest being that it reduces the efficacy of your paper. It also can cause the audience to lose interest, assuming simply that your paper is not meant for them. The fact of the matter is, there is no universal you. People are different,…

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Sentence Structure: The Appositive

Sentence Structure: The Appositive

What an Appositive Is: 

Appositives are phrases that provide additional information or another name for a noun. They are fantastic for clarification, and provide a little bit of zest to sentences. Unfortunately, many people do not correctly punctuate appositives.

When to Use an Appositive: 

Appositive’s should be added whenever you’re using a term that could be construed as unclear, since they…

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Logical Fallacies: The Straw Man

Logical Fallacies: The Straw Man

Logical Fallacies contaminate your entire paper, so I recommend searching for their existence at the outlining or rough drafting stage. Rewriting at the midnight hour because you found a logical fallacy in your final draft is a rough place to be (but we have all been there). Straw Man Fallacy: Creating a mock-up of the opposing view that is one dimensional, and thus easy to poke holes in. Much…

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Three Writing Mistakes You’re Making

Three Writing Mistakes You’re Making

Everyone makes mistakes. The key is to stop making the same mistakes. There are a million ways to mess up, so why keep repeating the same three?

This post is about the three most common writing mistakes I see not only in the academic writing of students, but also in creative writing.

#1 Not Prewriting

This is perhaps one of the most confusing mistakes to me. How terrifying is it to sit down at a…

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Top Five Ways to Self-Edit

Top Five Ways to Self-Edit

Learning how to self-edit is one of the most freeing accomplishments in the world. Suddenly, you can submit small assignments to your teacher knowing that they’ll be solid. You become a more confident writer, and you need less time and assistance from others.

Self-editing is independence.

This system can help with any paper and any problem. As long as you commit to it, and try your hardest.


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Parts of Speech: Part One

Parts of Speech: Part One

Knowing the parts of speech can help writers understand the mechanics of grammar and how to properly punctuate a sentence.

If you’re like me, then learning the mechanics of grammar and why things are they way that they are is a great way to understand grammar rather than try to learn all of the rules through rote memorization.

The parts of speech will affect the structure of a sentence, as well…

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Floating Adjectives

Adjectives, the words used to modify a noun, can add description and clarity to a paper. While sometimes overused, the overall opinion on adjectives seems to be largely positive.

Until the adjective is floating of course.

What Is An Adjective: 

An adjective is a word that modifies (adds meaning) to a noun.

The sad man.

A sedentary lifestyle.

What is a Floating Adjective: 

Thanks to the internet…

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Establishing Tone for an Academic Paper

Establishing Tone for an Academic Paper

The tone a paper is written in affects the reader on a subconscious level, changing the way they read your entire paper. Understanding how to control your tone is a skill that eludes a large number of writers, especially student writers.

The Basics of Tone

All writing has ‘tone.’ The voice that you imagine in your mind when you read a piece is the tone of that writing. Tones can be:  sarcastic,…

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Where Do Good Ideas Come From, Anyway?

Where Do Good Ideas Come From, Anyway?

What Do I Write About?

Probably the most frequent question I get asked on a day to day basis is simply “But what do I write about.”

Students who cannot stop talking in class and are often filled with wit and clever retorts are suddenly struck silent by simply having to come up with a topic to write about. Many times the onus of blame is placed on the subject itself.

But how do I write about…

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